Sieglin (24% buyer’s premium) in Gundelfingen was offering the bronze vessel, with two stylised animal heads as handles, which was of the gui or kuei type. It is based on vessels from the 9th century BC, the period of the Chou/Zhou Dynasty. The sides were decorated with reliefs of mythological beasts and Chinese characters.
Such vessels were originally made of pottery and used for domestic purposes. They subsequently became funerary utensils, containing offerings including grain, in ancestral tombs.
The 7in (18cm) high vessel in the auction, which stood on three scrolled feet, was partly inlaid with gold and silver. It had been in a local collection for almost 40 years, having been purchased from a German dealer in 1984 for 6400 Marks.
The guide in the March 6 auction was set conservatively at €1000. The Chinese bidder who secured it had to invest 25 times that amount: €25,000 (£21,740).